Seven new tiny frog species found

orange frog with brown and green blotches

All of the species are less than 1cm long, even as fully grown adults

Seven new species of tiny frog have been discovered on seven different mountains in south-eastern Brazil.

The cool “cloud forests” of this region have a unique climate, separated by warmer valleys that isolate the peaks like islands.

That isolation has produced 21 known species of Brachycephalus frog – and the new arrivals push that count to 28.

They are all less than 1cm long and many have colourful, poisonous skin to help them avoid becoming tiny meals.

The newly discovered species, reported in the journal PeerJ, are the fruit of five years of expeditions into the wilderness.

Marcio Pie, a professor at the Federal University of Parana in nearby Curitiba, said he had climbed more mountains than he can remember.

“It’s really exhausting,” he told the BBC. “The mountains are not that high – most of them are 1,000m to 1,500m – it’s just that the trails are not particularly well marked.”

Guessing game

These high forests near Brazil’s southern Atlantic coast are a fertile place for ecologists to explore, Prof Pie said, yielding more different species per square km than the Amazon.

frog and human fingers

The species vary in the colour and roughness of their skin

For animals like the Bracycephalus frogs that are particularly sensitive to their environment, even the temperature change from mountain to valley forms a barrier. That leaves the population on each mountain top to slowly develop into a separate species.

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